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An audit of the finances of 16 provincial and national government departments has uncovered 60 instances of questionable transactions by civil servants.

Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu revealed on Monday that since the Public Audit Amendment Act came into effect on April 1, auditors from his office had found 60 material irregularities.

While the details of the findings would be unpacked when the audit results for provincial and national departments were released, he was worried about what auditors would find when the act was rolled out in municipalities.

Makwetu delivered a lecture on accountability and management of public funds towards the delivery of services, at Nelson Mandela University’s Business School.

“Think about it – 60 out of 16, in a population of about 347 audit reports, you can imagine how many material irregularities we will find when the amendment is rolled out to the entire population.

“There’s a big set of material irregularities that is going to surface,” he said.

Makwetu said that before the act came into effect his office was not required to look into material irregularities.

The Public Audit Amendment Act has given the A-G powers to either investigate or refer cases to investigative bodies such as the public protector, the special investigating unit (SIU) or the Hawks.

The act also allows the A-G to hold accounting officers liable for any expenditure which contravenes the law.

Makwetu said the office was undergoing a process of upskilling auditors towards becoming forensic investigators.

He said though there had been death threats and attacks against his staff, they had resorted to giving auditors gadgets to protect themselves.

“It is clear that the people who are sitting on the other side controlling the resources get intimidated when there’s enough rigour that searches into their backyard.”

Makwetu said this was evident in Tshwane when auditors went to do a physical verification of assets but were instead caught in the crossfire when a supplier who had not been paid held officials and auditors in a container.

He said they had since taken protection measures.

“Our tools range from interacting with law enforcement agencies [to] empowering our staff with many things.”

Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN KEEPING TRACK: NMU vice-chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa with auditor-general Kimi Makwetu, who gave a lecture on accountability and management of public funds at the NMU Business School at the Second Avenue Campus.

This article appeared in The Herald (South Africa) on 20 August 2019, written by Siyamtanda Capa


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